Saturday, July 03, 2004

Masculinity is good for you!

It wasn't so long ago that men were being urged to become more like women for the sake of their mental health. Supposedly it was traditional masculinity which was killing men: the requirement to be strong and get on with life was held responsible for male depression and suicide.

An article in yesterday's Age newspaper has turned this argument around. There are now scientists who are arguing that it is women who are more vulnerable to depression and that part of the reason for this is the way that women try to cope with their problems.

What the statistics show is that "for every man, 1.7 women had experienced at least one episode of depression". Although hormonal differences partly account for this, so too do female coping mechanisms.

According to the Age article:

Another risk factor appears to be something that researchers call overthinking, a tendency to dwell on petty slights, to mentally replay testy encounters and to wallow in sad feelings. Studies show that this type of negative thinking is far more common in women than in men, and that it can be a harbinger of clinical depression.

The article then refers to the research of Dr Susan Nolen-Hoeksma, a professor at the University of Michigan, who believes that "The gender difference in overthinking is strongly tied to the gender difference in depression" and that depression in women is related to:

the greater tendency of girls and women to ruminate over the common curveballs of life, such as criticism at work or school or rejection by a friend, mulling them over and over without being able to come to a resolution or to simply move on.

The article then notes that:

By contrast, men are more likely than women to distract themselves from a problem, often by going off and doing something active ... They'll do things, they're more likely to go for a run ... they let it go.

One obvious conclusion to draw from all this is that the presence of a masculine man in a woman's life is likely to be beneficial in helping to prevent her from "overthinking problems". There is still an important role, in other words, for a strong male figure in a woman's life to protect her from the more vulnerable aspects of her own nature.


  1. Males have often been portrayed as being non-emotional or without feeling. This is a misconception regards males, but how many women are too emotional or drama queens.

  2. Women get depressed because they spend every minute of every day thinking about themselves because that is all they're interested in.....themselves. The centre of a woman's world is herself. The centre of a man's world is his family.

  3. I think the last concept is also two-way. Masculine failing can also be offset by the virtues of femininity